To qualify for an O-1 visa or EB-1 green card an individual must demonstrate qualification under three categories. One of those categories is “receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.”
For entrepreneurs one of the greatest prizes is acceptance into a prestigious accelerator and receipt of funds from angel investors and venture capitalists. Some accelerator programs are incredibly selective. For example, Y Combinator is reported to have an acceptance rate under 2%! Participation in a selective accelerator program can absolutely be considered a prize or award for an entrepreneur. There is no list of accelerators or programs that may qualify under this category, here are factors to consider:
- Is the program selective?
- Have other successful companies participated in the program?
- Does the accelerator come with other perks such as funding?
- Who are the mentors accelerator participants have access to?
Similarly, funding in any circumstances could be considered a prize. Funding from notable investors is even more significant.
Both the accelerator programs and funding can be helpful in establishing your credentials for a second category in the O-1 and EB-1 category, “evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations”. The greater recognition your company receives from notable actors, including accelerators and investors, the easier it is to demonstrate that your new venture is a distinguished organization in its own right.
To learn more about O-1 visas and EB-1 green cards and whether you may qualify, please contact us.